Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Thinking and Being

"The world is all that is the case" is the first proposition of Wittgenstein’s TractatusIn her review of Irad Kimhi’s Thinking and Being ("True or False," TLS, 8/16/19). Rose Ryan Flinn deals with a rather heady notion, even for a discipline devoted to thought.  Flinn points out that the German logician Frege’s work is the basis of current analytic thinking and it's his theories that have previously been brought to bear on the refutation of Parmenides’ notion “that thinking falsely is unintelligible.” She remarks, “Specifically, Parmenides' puzzle appears to call for Frege’s notion of a ‘proposition’, which holds the promise of rendering falsehood intelligible…Propositions thereby comprise a veil of intermediaries that stand between thinkers and the world, and which are what they are independently of how the world is configured.”  Flinn’s rendition of Kimhi’s critique of Frege, which follows in the review, leads to an almost nihilistic sounding conclusion. “To put it succinctly: if propositions needn’t be true, it’s unclear how they can be true; and if propositions don’t make claims,  it's unclear how they can be claims.” You may be wondering, what's this all about? Is it a little like the notion that a man’s home is his castle and that thinking occupies its own province apart from so-called reality? Whether you get the idea, in the end, may be besides the point. Simply sit back and enjoy the portentous sounding title of Kimhi’s book which competes handily with the consequentialist Derek Parfit’s pithy sounding Reasons and Persons.

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